What a surprise! During the cruise on the Bay with a big crowd on board I discovered that two of my extended family have started an addition to their own family right on the ship.
The facts are as follows: Claudia and Charlie Gull have built a nest on the ship right in the middle of the cannon near the stern of the ship. Talk about playing to the crowd. Normally members of the Gull Family nest on the ground in more isolated areas and in the company of many other members of the Gull Family, but not Charlie & Claudia. No, they have to build a nest right in the middle of the ship and show off to hundreds of people.
Another note of interest; Charlie Gull is a distant relative of an old French Gull Family and he claims that he is directly related to the legendary ‘Charles de Gull’. Charles had an important role in World War II and also served in the post war French Government as the official French Bird. Pretty impressive if Charlie is telling it straight.
Editor’s Note: The members of the California Gull Family normally nest in the lakes and marshes of the interior of Western North America. They usually nest in the company of other birds, and the nest is usually in a shallow depression on the ground and the female normally lays 2-3 eggs. The incubation period ranges from 23-27 days and the time the young birds are in the nest is another 45 days (average) until fledging. It is highly unusual that a nesting pair would choose the empty breech of a 5″ cannon on board an operating ship, especially one with frequent visitors and large crowds. It is quite ironic that the Gull, not exactly the dove of peace, would choose the main defensive armament as a nesting site. For more information on the 5″ cannon please visit here.
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien will be 69 years old in June 2012 and it is believed that this is the first time she has served as a Gull rookery. We cannot confirm the allegation that Charlie is really related to Charles de Gull, but the ship did visit France both during the Second World War and in 1994 during the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
If the assumptions as to when the nesting started are correct the eggs should hatch in mid June, and the chicks should fledge by August. We do not know how many eggs are in the nest, and we certainly do not want to disturb the happy nesting couple, but by mid-June we should know how many chicks are in the clutch and by August they should be able to spread their wings and fly.
For more information on the Gull Family please visit this site, and to see Claudia, Charlie and the nest please visit the ship. We have cordoned off the cannon to provide some privacy to the nesting couple, but the platform is open and welcoming visitors.